On February 7, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) filed an ex parte with the Federal Communications Commission, warning the Commission of the potential adverse impacts its Vacant Channel Proposal would have on LPTV broadcasters, minority ownership (which currently remains at an all-time low), and foreign language and diverse programming. The full text of the letter is below.
February 07, 2016
Ms. Marlene H. Dortch
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street S.W.
Washington DC 20554
Re: Amendment of Parts 15, 73, and 74 of the Commission’s Rules to Provide for the Preservation of One Vacant Channel in the UHF Television Band for Use by White Space Devices and Wireless Microphones; MB Docket No. 15-146, GN Docket No. 12-268
Dear Ms. Dortch:
The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (“MMTC”) respectfully submits this letter to address the Commission’s proposal to reserve the last channel in each market, or “vacant channel” for unlicensed use. We believe that this proposal would have a negative and disproportionately devastating impact on multicultural programming and broadcast station ownership by people of color. Specifically, over the last several decades, low power television (LPTV) has proven itself as among the most successful means for achieving these goals. MMTC believes that if the Commission moves forward with its unprecedented proposal to force open additional channels for unlicensed use by displacing LPTV stations—viewed in conjunction with the displacements resulting from the TV spectrum auction—that action will adversely affect and potentially extinguish LPTV stations, particularly in mid-sized and larger markets where spectrum availability is limited.
Minority Broadcast Ownership Continues to be at an All Time Low
Currently, minority ownership of broadcast stations is at “disturbing” levels.1 Minority and female entrepreneurs have spent decades building their businesses and serving their local audiences, but despite their effort to diversify our airwaves, they will bear the brunt of the inevitable consequences of the Commission’s vacant channel proposal. The best source of foreign language and other diverse programming, now offered only on LPTV stations, will simply disappear. [click to continue…]
Washington, DC (January 28, 2016): The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) opposes the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) notice of proposed rulemaking on set-top boxes because it undermines goals for advancing diverse content. Like other minority-focused public interest groups, programmers, and elected officials, MMTC believes such a mandate would create “second class carriage” for diverse content and programming by making these offerings less visible and available to consumers in an already competitive video marketplace.
In particular, MMTC is concerned that Chairman Wheeler’s current proposal would force programmers and distributors to disaggregate their shows and services, then provide the content to companies to repackage without compensating the content creators or respecting the basic terms of licensing deals. MMTC believes the unintended consequences for minority programmers—who already lack equal access to capital and carriage on new media platforms—would impact their placement, profile, advertising revenue, and current and future investments in quality multicultural programming. We believe that the FCC proposal to expand consumer choices for viewing content should not be done in a way to create unintended consequences for all minority programmers. [click to continue…]
There are just a few days left to register for MMTC’s 30th Anniversary Broadband and Social Justice Summit, “Thirty Years of Changing Channels: Platforms for the Future.” This year’s theme reflects the many milestones we have achieved in advancing our mission to promote entrepreneurship and community advancement amidst the challenges and opportunities presented by a digital economy.
At this year’s Summit, in continuation of this great work, we have invited community and industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and law and policymakers to discuss the cutting edge issues that impact broadband deployment, diversity, and policy in the telecommunications and tech arena.
Whether your goal is to participate in efforts to improve diversity in the industry, hear the impact of the upcoming spectrum auctions on minority broadcast stations, to better understand “over-the-top” distribution models and how they impact linear minority programming channels, or hear the top lawmakers discuss developments on the legislative agenda, our goal is to keep you informed, energized, and engaged.
Kim M. Keenan
President and CEO
January 12, 2016 (Washington, DC) – The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing today on a bill that would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from regulating broadband rates. The hearing on H.R. 2666, the No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act, authored by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), would prevent the FCC from regulating the rates charged for broadband Internet. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has previously stated that the Open Internet Order is not about regulating rates, so this bill reduces his statement to a statutory requirement.
MMTC believes H.R. 2666 will create certainty that will assist in closing the digital divide for those who must choose between broadband and bare necessities. The key to bridging this divide is in completing the buildout of broadband in every community, and not just in wealthy communities. We believe rate regulation has the opposite effect of what is needed to encourage deployment because it would provide Internet service providers with an excuse to not invest in broadband or high speed Internet. Rate regulation also discourages the roll-out of innovative pricing, such as through advertiser-supported business models, to address affordability and other barriers to consumer adoption of broadband.
We must continue to work toward universal access to the digital economy if we are to ensure health, education, and job opportunities are available to all Americans. MMTC welcomes this hearing as a step in the right direction.
The following article originally appeared in The New York Times.
More than 80 percent of American adults use the Internet, a number that will continue to increase alongside consumer demand for broadband-enabled devices and applications. Given this trend, the U.S. should expand its current definition of physical infrastructure beyond local and national water mains, electrical grids, roads, bridges and highways to include high-speed broadband. And, it’s imperative that broadband is widely available to every citizen, regardless of who they are and where they live.
However, treating high speed broadband as infrastructure is complicated. [click to continue…]
Please join the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) for our 7th Annual Broadband and Social Justice Summit, “Thirty Years of Changing Channels: Platforms for the Future.” MMTC is celebrating our 30th Anniversary as the leading national nonprofit organization advocating for diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity in media and telecom.
At the Summit, current and former FCC commissioners, members of Congress, industry leaders, investors, entrepreneurs, and civil rights and social justice leaders will share their expertise on the latest media, telecom, and high tech issues impacting multicultural communities. Issues to be addressed include:
- How each tech platform can be leveraged to close the wealth gap and the digital divide.
- How to achieve diversity and inclusion in corporate C-suites and boards and in the supply chain.
- The latest developments in the future of broadband for communities of color, including a discussion of distribution platforms, content and deployment.
- How FCC, FTC, and legislative policies will impact entrepreneurship, privacy, and quality of life for communities of color.
- How policies that advance minority entrepreneurship can help stimulate economic opportunity, generate wealth and enhance innovation in the nation’s most influential industries.
- How universal broadband adoption can create jobs, promote STEM education, and enable the creation of diverse content and applications for telehealth, digital education, and entrepreneurship.
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Join the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizen Education Fund on Tuesday and Wednesday, December 15th and 16th, where an array of guests will discuss “The Future of Media and Technology: Growth, Convergence, Disruption.”
DAY ONE – December 15, 2015
“The Legacy Affair”
1001 16TH STREET, NW
WASHINGTON, DC 20036
Time: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
DAY TWO – December 16, 2015
Time: 7:30am – 5:00pm
Registration: Opens at 7:30am
Symposium: 8:30am – 5:00pm
During the evening reception on Day 1, MMTC Vice President and Chief Research and Policy Officer Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee will receive the Public Policy Advocate Leader Lifetime Achievement Award. She will also moderate the Day 2 panel, “Shifting Democracy: How New Media is Disrupting the Social Justice Agenda,” which features MMTC President Emeritus and Senior Advisor David Honig and NewsOne Now Host Roland Martin as speakers.
Day 1: “The Legacy Affair”
Maurette Brown-Clark, Gospel Recording Artist
Angie Stone, Recording Artist and Grammy Nominee
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 11, 2015): This week, a House-Senate conference committee approved the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, H.R. 644, which would replace the temporary moratorium on Internet access taxes with a permanent ban. The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) has long advocated that a permanent ban on state and local taxation of Internet access is one of the key components to closing the digital divide. This ban will prevent an increase in the cost of broadband access for all Americans.
Internet access taxes impose additional barriers to broadband adoption and use, which ultimately impacts the nation’s ability to connect every citizen. MMTC believes the congressional committee was correct in its decision to make the Internet Tax Freedom Act permanent, rather than settling for another temporary extension. This congressional action will prevent the imposition of innumerable taxes that would have impacted access to the Internet and its many benefits, including access to jobs, education, healthcare, and civic engagement. [click to continue…]
WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 4, 2015): Today, the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on the appeal of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to reclassify the Internet as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act. In August, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) filed an amicus curiae brief pointing out that the FCC’s imposition of Title II regulation on broadband is likely to reverse the positive trends in broadband adoption. MMTC cautions that if the Court decides to uphold the Commission’s ruling, broadband access will be more costly and less accessible, with a significant and disparate impact on low-income and historically disadvantaged populations.
“The FCC’s failure to meaningfully consider the impact of its open Internet rules on the tens of millions of citizens who have economic and social barriers to broadband access was arbitrary and capricious,” stated MMTC President and CEO Kim Keenan. “Our nation has enjoyed explosive Internet innovation, growth, and adoption for decades without Title II. We need to ensure that every American, rich and poor, old and young, urban and rural, is connected. Vacating the FCC’s Order to reclassify broadband access under Title II will serve the best interests of consumers, and particularly the best interests of disadvantaged communities that remain on the wrong side of the digital divide.” [click to continue…]
This year, on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, MMTC is participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to supporting nonprofit organizations that work to bring positive change to communities around the world. Last year, more than 30,000 organizations in 68 countries came together to celebrate #GivingTuesday. Since its founding in 2012, #GivingTuesday has inspired giving around the world, resulting in greater donations, volunteer hours, and activities that bring about real change in our communities.
As you recover from the Thanksgiving holiday, please consider making MMTC your #GivingTuesday beneficiary!
Every dollar you donate helps us to support our research and policy initiatives; create jobs and opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses; train minorities and women to own and operate broadcast stations; promote education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields; bridge the digital divide; and train the next generation of leaders in the media, technology, and telecommunications industries. [click to continue…]